The Art of Detachment – Essential for Asperger Relationships

The Art of Detachment - Self-Care Tips for those in an Asperger RelationshipLiving with a mate who has Asperger’s Syndrome is filled with stress. You love them but they are unpredictable. You never know how they’ll react to an ordinary situation.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that many NT (neuro-typical) mates report a variety of psychosomatic and immunodeficiency illnesses, such as migraines, arthritis, gastric reflux, and fibromyalgia. When the body is regularly thrown into a state of alarm, the over-production of adrenalin and cortisol wreaks havoc with the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral on the need to care for yourself first. This may seem impossible at first, because of the chaos of family life. But it is essential and possible if you learn the art of detachment.

Detachment is learning to protect yourself from all of those not-so-ordinary moments. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about your loved ones. It simply means that you:

  • Stop taking it all personally.
  • Stop worrying if you’ve covered all the bases.
  • Stop beating yourself up for your flaws.
  • Stop expecting more from your AS spouse than he or she can give.

When you learn the art of detaching, you actually free up some energy to care for yourself. And that creates the energy to make better decisions instead of flitting from crisis to crisis.

There are two methods for achieving detachment:

1. Emotional self-care is doing all of the healthy feel-good things you can fit into your day. If you notice that you’re drinking, eating, or smoking too much, you need healthier self-care. Make it a point to always plan healing rest and recreation in your day, too.

2.Cognitive self-care consists of education. When you can’t fathom what’s going on with your Aspie, and they’re accusing you of things you didn’t do, stress increases. It’s bad enough to be misunderstood. It’s quite another to try to operate without a frame of reference for the misunderstanding. Even though it’s work to read a book and to attend psychotherapy, knowledge is power.

When I was learning to deal with family members with ASD, there weren’t that many resources. So I founded a Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. It has helped many cope as they connect with others living through he same experiences. Check it out and if it feels right for you, please hit the “join” button.

7 Replies to “The Art of Detachment – Essential for Asperger Relationships”

  1. I am an NT married 22 years to an undiagnosed (but he agrees) Aspie and when I went to therapy a year ago (before we even suspected – that only happened a few months ago) I specifically asked her to help me not ‘feel’ so much and help me to stop hoping because it was more harmful to me and our relationship. She was unfamiliar with AS and said she couldn’t do that. We then went together but because she treated us an NT-NT relationship it was more harmful and we left after 7 months when I finally clued in she consistently bought into his charm (and who wouldn’t – he’s a great guy, which is why no one understands my issues). He actually apologized last week after reading Maxine Aston’s book, Asperger’s in Love, because he could finally see how I might be feeling, especially in those sessions feeling unheard, and how alone I was in trying to find help and thanked me for working so hard. I am working at self-care and trying to ‘brush off’ his oddities and not take them personally. It’s all the little things that eat away slowly. Not abusive verbally or physically, just a chipping away side effect of me knowing I can’t ever truly please him that hurts so much, even though he would never say that. We are still absolutely in love with each other but have a lot of understanding yet to go!

    1. Thank you Beth. Your story is hopeful. You made it through the unintentional abuse of an ill informed therapist —- and lived to tell about it. You carried on and because you didn’t cave, your husband learned something too. Glad to hear that your love is carrying the day. It’s a very tough life.

    2. I could’ve written this reply. It’s amazing how similar the marriages are. Unfortunately, I have ptsd that’s triggered by abandonment. How we’ve been together for almost 25 years is because of the love. But I’m wearing thin, again, and don’t know how much more I can take. The loneliness is unbearable, unless I stuff my emotions. I’m sorry, I just meant to say how remarkably similar so many comments are to my own situation.

      1. The pattern that startled you is something that I couldn’t understand either. It took awhile for me to understand I wasn’t alone. Then when I began writing about this phenomenon, others began to confirm what they were living with too. But it still amazes me that it took so long to notice the suffering.

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